'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Last Visible Kiwi?

Contemplating a name change.
Not really.  Just joking.
But, what is not a joke is that, with the exception of only two bird species, every single indigenous bird in New Zealand is mentioned in our Wildlife Act legislation as needing some kind of protection.

http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/north-island-brown-kiwi

Say the word kiwis in the Rest of the World and they seem to think a fruit or shoe polish.
But here, we refer to ourselves as Kiwis, aka, New Zealanders.
The bird we have adopted as our namesake as well as our national bird, is no better off than any other NZ bird.  And a lot worse off than many.  Nocturnal.  Forest-dwelling. Ground-nesting. Flightless. And with a naturally low rate of reproduction (one or maybe two eggs a year), kiwis are under threat from reduction of their natural environment.
But mostly from predation by a long and toothy list of introduced species:
Cats
Dogs
Ferrets
Hedgehogs
Weasels
Rats
Brush-tailed Possums

http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz/sites/all/files/120047MTSM12_KiwiEncounter_Mk3-4743-SBernert.jpg

There are six types of kiwi in New Zealand.  One is already extinct.
They are found no-where else in the world.
Most Kiwi kids, and most adults too, have never seen a real kiwi.


7 comments:

  1. I'm afraid this is a problem for many ground nesting birds, our own beautiful Hoopoe is becoming rare. As a flightless bird, I would have the Kiwi had more chance in a controlled breeding programme; at least they can't escape. It just needs a government with enough clout to give them a large protected area. We don't need more Dodo scenarios (I have an old book in which it states that a Dodo would feed 15 men!).

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    1. We have many, many protected areas Cro. My dream is that they begin to be connected up with 'corridors', which would effectively enlarge the areas, which are generally small.
      The problem is that predator-proof fences are incredibly expensive to construct and maintain.
      Most of NZ's rare birds are raised and looked after on our predator-free islands…
      Re government funding, long term most of the work is done by passionate and dedicated volunteers.

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  2. Feral animals are a horrible pest we have brought upon ourselves that is very difficult, possibly impossible , to solve. We are finding the same thing here with bilbies for instance and a fenced off area as Cro suggests sounds like a great solution.
    This little film is a great start.

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    Replies
    1. 'We' brought it on New Zealand too. :-(

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  3. To all kiwis reading this blogpost, may I apologise for what human beings have done to you and your kind. As you snuffled about in the New Zealand undergrowth through countless nights and so many centuries you cannot have known what lay in store for you. I am deeply sorry.

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  4. All Kiwis thank you for your apology YP.
    Kakapo are in deeper doos. It was said that in the old days, one merely had to put on the pot, get the water boiling and reach out for one which would have wandered curiously into your camp area. They were incredibly successful in New Zealand, having outwitted the only two predators, which were eagle-like birds, by becoming forest-dwelling, nocturnal and giving up flying (sound familiar?). They are the world's only nocturnal, flightless parrot.
    There are now only 126.

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  5. I'm fortunate enough to have seen quite a few kiwis (of the near-extinct variety) and whilst there are many creatures in the world in a similar plight and without the dedication of so many people trying to preserve them, there is something absolutely emotionally imperative in their continued existence.

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